Citing bullying and Sunshine Law violations, Lewis-Palmer school board member resigns

The Complete Colorado: Acrimony, animosity and charges of violation of state law in Lewis-Palmer School District 38 resulted in Board of Education member Sarah Sampayo resigning April 19 in protest of what she calls “emotional gang rape” by other members of the board and district staff.

Sampayo says she cannot function as a board member because of a pattern of abusive conduct by other board members and a hostile work atmosphere in the district in general. She submitted her resignation by email, effective 5 p.m. on Thursday, just before the 6 p.m. Board of Education regular meeting.

Sampayo, a Republican elected in 2015, said, “As soon as I was elected, this was the atmosphere that enveloped me: constant vitriol, false rumors, and attempts to undercut my authority, with other board members and district staff.”

“One board member repeatedly told me, ‘Nobody trusts you,’” she continued, “Constantly telling someone ‘nobody likes you,’ ‘nobody trusts you’ – when kids do it, we call it bullying. What do we call it when adults do it?”

Saying the hostile atmosphere extends beyond the school board and into the community Sampayo said, “I am repeatedly saddened to see parents with complaints about the district feeling the need to hide their identity for fear of retaliation against them or their children.”

She also claims that dissident teachers are subjected to retaliation. She said, “They say that if they voice their concern, they are given the ‘silent treatment’ or even worse, given a bad course load the next term that eliminates any free time day or night.”

“I find the climate in this district oppressive, appalling and bigoted,” said Sampayo.

Sampayo also says the board violated the Colorado Open Meetings Act in two closed executive sessions in January. She says the board discussed matters not eligible for executive session confidentiality, failed to provide the mandatory public notice by not providing adequate specificity about what was to be discussed, and by straying off the topics listed on the published agenda.

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